Sometimes it feels like we’ll be trapped in the cycles of COVID-19 forever. New variants come up (thanks anti-vaxxers) and here we go again riding the peaks and valleys — infections, hospitalizations, deaths — before it levels out again.

There were a brief few months this summer when we enjoyed a mostly mask-free life, but then the variants starting making the rounds (thanks anti-vaxxers) and I pulled the basket-of-masks down from the top kitchen shelf where I hoped I’d forget they ever existed and put them back on the counter by the door.

That said, masks are a small price to pay for a semi-normal life again. This weekend, the girls gathered with friends to go to a formal dance, to play midnight bingo on campus, to compete in a swim meet, to play board games, and to go on dates:

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I thought about how very different this year is from last year, when we spent a lot of time together — just the four of us — walking, cooking, playing board and video games, reading, watching movies.

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I’m grateful for both. That weird year was nice some ways, but this return to near-normal is a relief.  College girls should go to dances and on dates and to swim meets and to class on campus. They should hang out in the cafe between classes and get together to study and eat pizza at midnight.

But I can’t help but think about how tenuous it all is. I worry constantly about a more dangerous mutation. One that kills rapidly or renders the vaccine (that all the responsible members of society have gotten) ineffective. Every infection is a chance for a deadly mutation.

And there’s nothing we can do, but carry on with our near-normal lives — get caught up in the hustle-and-bustle of the holiday season, jet off on vacations, put on our fancy ball gowns, return to the office and hope for the best all the while wondering, how long do we have until humans finally destroy themselves?

I know. I’m so Gen X.

Whatever, man.

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About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.